Measuring our impact
Our vision as a charity is to ensure that everyone severely affected by mental illness is able to live their best lives. By this we mean individuals living with mental illness, their carers and their friends and families having a good quality of life which is on a par with everyone else.
Rethink Mental Illness has a wide remit; we have services, groups, helplines, and we work in a variety of settings, such as hospitals, care homes, prisons and in the community. We're dedicated to providing practical support, accessible online advice and information resources, and comprehensive training. Feedback regularly informs the way we work, but we wanted to create a way to understand more deeply our effectiveness: what works well, and what works less well.
We wanted to see the impact of our work; to see if our targets to create the best possible quality of life for people living with severe mental illness were on track, and see how we can continue to make improvements. In order to do this, we have created an Impact Framework. This strategic approach helps guide us in what information to collect across everything we do as an organisation. It gives us a clearer picture of our impact and how we are making a difference for people severely affected by mental illness.
Whether our work as a charitable organisation makes a difference is a hugely valid and difficult question to answer. In this podcast, Deputy CEO Brian Dow chats with our Head of Evidence and Impact, Richard McManus, to help understand how we measure our work.
|Listen to our podcast
The Impact Framework is owned by everyone within the organisation. We all play a part in achieving our mission, whether that be through direct service delivery, influencing and campaigning, shaping local provision or ensuring we remain a strong and sustainable organisation.
We will use the Impact Framework to hold ourselves to account, ensuring that we continually reflect and improve in order to achieve the greatest possible long-term impact for the people we support.
When it comes to supporting people severely affected by mental illness, making sure people are able to access high quality treatment in a timely manner is one vital part of the picture. But we also need to think about all the other factors that shape our mental health: our housing, our jobs, our financial situation, and our support networks. We think it’s time that communities and organisations come together to play their part in providing social activities, volunteering opportunities, or advice for issues such as debt or employment. This in turn can lighten the burden that people with mental illness carry.
So, in short, our communities that care strategy looks at supporting the 'whole person', and helps them to thrive, not just survive. Our impact framework is part of this wider strategy.
Understanding our impact: where we are making a positive difference and where we are not, gives us lots of ways we can improve the way we operate, and ultimately further improve the impact we have on people's lives.
It means we can look at if there are particular groups, like people with certain protected characteristics, who are seeing less positive outcomes. It gives us tangible evidence and ideas on what we can do to change the way we support people.
It means we can identify and try out new ways of working, new programmes and services intended to address the needs of people with severe mental illness which emerge through our impact evaluation work.
It also gives us a lot of information on the needs of people severely affected by mental illness. This information underpins our policy and campaigns work, meaning we are able to draw on the experiences of the thousands of people we directly support.
Our vision for a better future
What we have found so far
But we know we are not there yet. We need to do much more to measure our impact and use this information to learn and improve. We need to keep checking that how we are working is benefiting people. We need to keep investing in new approaches and involving people with experience at every level. We also need to work closely with others to make sure we are campaigning influencing the government, improving services, and truly transforming community mental health.
We won't stop until all people affected by severe mental illness have the best quality of life possible. We will continue to use our Impact Framework to guide what we do and how we best use our resources to achieve our mission.
We are also really keen to get feedback on the questions we are asking as we want to ensure we are continually improving our ways of capturing and using the responses that we get. If you would like to send us feedback, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
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